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Day 88, Your Church = Your Community.

The next time you are at your church take a good look around. Do a census in your head? What is the largest population in your church? Is it older people, middle age, or young? What would you say is the poorest family in your church? Who is the richest? What occupations do most people have? What common interest/hobbies are throughout the congregation? Does the spiritual maturity of the congregation move through all the levels or is focused primarily on one focus group, i.e. the 'old guy'? Do you have any ethnic groups in your church? Are there outsiders or rebellious looking people (tattoos, motorcycle, stereotypes) Has anyone in your church recovered from homosexuality, adultery or porn?

I asked this for a simple reason. If God has planted a church in a particular region of the country, shouldn't the church be a cross-section of the majority of the people in the culture?

Shouldn't you see the same people variety at your church as you would on a common trip to Wal-Mart…

Day 87, The Waiting is Over.

After living out of a suitcase for the last 7 weeks, its official. I feel like I am home here in Texas, at least for right now.

Now, for the recap. On or about the 23rd of June, Jessica and I were contacted by the Chaplain Corp about a new assignment that I was getting here in Fort Hood Texas. I was quite surprised to find out that the Army's understanding of stability was moving from my overseas home in Germany to Fort Hood, and then deploying in about 30 days after getting settled in. Jessica and I held our breath and looked at the big picture. The big picture is: Chaplain's typically deploy only twice as a Captain, then we go school and wait until we get our Major before launching out again. Therefore, I will get the 2nd deployment completed and then prayerfully come home to enjoy about 2.5-3 years of non-deploying years.

After the news, we basically started saying our goodbyes and launched from Germany to Texas. Rented a house. Picked up our new dog, Major. Gave up the P…

Day 85, Wondering Where COB Speicher?

Its true. It looks like I am heading to Iraq for part II. I found this video on YOUTUBE that is funny, and is the actual place that I am going downrange. For those of us who have actually seen Iraq, this is pretty stink'n accurate of those FOB's that you long to go to, but never got the chance. Well, this time CH Craven is heading to COB Speicher! (well, atleast I think I am. ALWAYS SUBJECT TO CHANGE.)

Day 85, Not Your Grand-Dads Army.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I did a single soldiers retreat down in Bavaria/Edelweiss. It was another learning experience for me. In the midst of the normal 'taking care of soldiers', I made an observation that may or may not be the complete normal of the Army culture, but definitely was for the group that attended the event.

Observations:
-Out of the 46 that attended the event, over 95% of them were wearing black or dark t-shirts. Of course, the overwhelming majority of them also have tattoos as well.

-After discussing values of marriage, the overwhelming majority saw: (1) Family History of your spouse, (2) their personal values/beliefs, as not truly contributing factors on whether or not their relationship was compatible.

-Upon dismissing them from most of my sessions, a small majority of them would actually go experience the ALPs, while the rest would have no problem with traversing the 2 mile walk downtown to bars and strip-clubs.

-There was absolutely no talking on the …

Day 84: Bowling History Made.

Reporting live from Baumholder, Germany. Last night, Chaplain John L. Craven bowled a historic 203 at Strikers Bowling. A legitimate 203. It is true. I know its hard to imagine such a moment. This very blog clearly validates the event. Let's go live to John's remarks

...(static)...ANNOUNCER: [Crowd noise almost deafening] John,...Mr. John Craven...can I get a word from you in response to this historic moment...[horns blowing in the background]

John: "Yes,... of course. [being let down from the shoulders of the Mayor of Baumholder, putting down the key to the city.] I know this is hard to imagine and I have much to be thankful for....my mind is just racing...[receives a cold cup of water from COL Matlock]....Thank you sir...you shouldn't have.

Ok...[crowd silences and hushes]...

I just want to thank all the following people. My dad for all the countless trips to the bowling alley during my youth and grade school years as a celebration for good grades. To all the many…

Day 83. My New Position: Daddy

As you may know the Reformed Chaplain has been dormant for just about 2 months now. My pen has been silent for a reason. On May 3 of this year, Jessica and I became mother and daddy of a beautiful new addition to our family, Angie.

Now, two full months have just about passed this date. My role as Husband to a spectacular wife has now been further enhanced with a new position: Daddy. At a recent BBQ, I had a good friend ask me: So, how is parenthood? I had to stop for a second and think.

My answer: "Well, I think back on my days of being single and then getting married on April 23. I woke up the same. I still drove the same. I still brushed my teeth. Not much 'felt' different, but by the end of the day...I had assumed a new responsibility. I clearly remember looking at my ring on my finger that evening and thinking, "so, now I'm married. Nice." I kind'a felt the same. No major shift in my personality or thinking with Angie. I know that God has prepared …

Day 82, Mondays: LOL.

There are a few things that make me laugh out loud. A couple of TV shows, Heidi's antics, Jessica's story-telling...etc. But there is nothing better than having one of those belly laughing moments when you are really needing to just laugh. Laughing is a lot like crying, everyone needs a good one every now and then.

So, in light of this thought, I will dedicate my MONDAY EDITIONS to LOL. Things that make me laugh. It might be a joke or two or just a goofy YouTube video, but either way, enjoy.
*****************

Things That Make Me LOL.
THIS WEEK: Charlie the Unicorn




While we have been in the field training, I have had the strong desire to be serious about my work. Going to ranges and seeing soldiers takes up a majority of my time. Later in the evenings, as I have mentioned earlier I space out for just a few minutes and watch a couple of goofy YouTube videos between the meetings.  I stumbled across this, which is quite senseless and stupid...but after 30 days w/o your wife...you …

Day 81, Conversative Military Chaplains Face Challenges Ahead

(Above Clip, comes from Stars and Stripes Wednesday April 20, 2010.)
There is a lot of speculation floating around regarding the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell Policy" (DADT) on how it will effect the military. Obviously, I have great concerns regarding this. I love the Army. I love being so close to a people group that desperately needs to hear more of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is far from easy. The strain on families during a war on two fronts leaves a ministering Chaplain with not the problem of 'who' do I minister to, but more of a ' Out of the multitudes I can minister to, God please direct me." There is a desperate need for a Evangelical presence in the military, if we are truly about reaching ALL people with the Great Commission. The advancing repeal of the policy could possibly prompt an "exodus of many conservative Chaplains".
So, as I look ahead at some of the possible ramifications of the repeal of this DADT policy, thes…

Day 80, From Coffee to Monsters.

I remember when I was in basic training our Drill Sergeants told us to save our 'Sanka-Instant Coffee' in order for us to eat on it as we did our final 12 mile road march at Fort Jackson. I thought it was silly, but as we went into our 72 hours of barely sleeping days, it was almost a necessity to stay awake.

12 years later,...I have seen Mountain Dew, Jolt, Red Bull, Rip-Its, Tiger, and now Monster become a staple for the Joe and the Officers. No longer is the coffee pot the only meeting ground for discussion about upcoming missions but 50 ft from a public building where you will see a gaggle of cigarettes and the latest ridiculously over-sized Monster drinks. It doesn't matter what time,...0800 to 2330...it really doesn't matter.

I do drink my share of caffeine. I have my several cups of coffee before lunch, but that's where it stops. I tried a couple of Red Bulls, and at 35 I could feel my heart race and I couldn't even read because my eyes were jumping so mu…

Day 79, Seeing People Eye to Eye.

In the Army we have a standard uniform for just about everything. On the typical post you will see most soldiers in ACU's (the digital looking uniform), boots, a beret,...etc.  When you are in a deployed or training environment we have the ACU's plus knee pads, elbow pads, a protective vest with various attachments, helmet and eye-protection. In a massive formation its pretty difficult to see people as individuals in such 'uniformity'. Everyone seems to blend in with each other. Even within a unit that you know people on a first name basis its very easy to just simple walk by 100's of soldiers and never truly notice them as people who have lives and families.

Even as a Chaplain walking around to see soldiers I have to consciously make efforts to take off my eye-protection (sun-glasses) and gloves so that I look at people eye to eye and get a real hand shake. I know that seems very odd, but it seems that we are so used to being 'pass over' that this touch of…

Day 78, Friends and their Youtube Selections.

Just recently the Army has lifted its ban from government computers for visiting sites like Youtube and Facebook. Now, after about 36 hours of this being lifted I have noticed quite the phenomenon. The scenario looks as follows.

A computer savvy individual is surfing through the latest Youtube post. As you approach or pass him by, he looks up from his computer and notices you. Politely he asks, "Hey, wanna see something cool?" Of course, its rude to continue walking because he has simply asked for a moment of your time. You slow your pace, stand behind his shoulder and watch as he loads or reloads a video he has just watched. Little do you know that this is just the beginning. Just as soon as the 2:32 min clip ends, he says, "Oh, have you seen this...". This pattern continues as the individual effortless sifts through an endless queue of clips. Your personal interest in 'the biggest Zit' or 'world's stupidest game show contestant', has been comp…

Day 77, Where did the 'collection' of the Bible come?

I am reading a new book this week. I love to read things that makes me rethink what I have forged in my head or is putting together some of the bizarre questions that I have often had, but refused to try to answer because I was nervous the answer.

For many Christians, the question regarding where the Bible came from is almost non-existent. But think about it! Where did this collection come? Did it just 'POOF!', here it is? Did Moses receive the 66 book collection? You may have heard of the Canon of Scripture, but what group of guys put this collection together that constituted the 'Bible'? Were these guys infallible in their decision making process? Do we have all the books necessary? A lot of these questions should keep us all humble and eager to worship the God revealed in Scriptures and not the Bible by itself? It is God's Word. But, I understand it to be the revelation of God, not God himself.

Before I create more questions, let me give you TWO STATEMENTS TO LO…

Day 76, Check and Recheck.

I think it would be safe to say that when you join the Army that if you are a touch OCD, you might find yourself better off than seen as abnormal. Checking and Rechecking your daily task is completely normal.

What does this look like? Here is just a list of some of the daily questions tasks:

How many alarm clocks have you set before you go to bed? I have 3.
Before you pack to go on a trips, do you check tire pressure, oil, your safety/emergency kit,...make sure water and snacks are in reach, and a blanket is packed?  Maps, two routes, 1 extra oil qt, ...shall I continue?
Do you have 3 daily planners (phone numbers, calendars, and to do task that are updated each morning simultaneously at 0600.) When you have an event, is arriving 25-30 minutes early completely normal? while arriving 5 minutes early is late?
Do you have a routine for everything?
Do you honk the horn just a little every time you back up?
Do you check and recheck your wallet to make sure your wallet has your ID Card in …

Day 75, The Missing Link (Woman)

Ok, I am sitting down at a Sushi Bar in Crystal City (Metro Stop, in Washington DC).  It was about 700pm, and I was finishing up a delicious Spider Roll and some green tea. I pulled out the Itouch in my fleece front pocket, tapped shuffle and grabbed a couple of bucks to buy a day pass on the metro to grab the blue train downtown. 6 mins later, I am enjoying one of my favorite parts of public transportation. (People watching). Listen to Derek Webb, I zone out and watch the stops go by, as I await for my stop, Smithsonian.
I purposefully stand at the announcement and walk to the door, ...within in another 2-3 minutes I am standing directly dead center of the Mall in DC. (not a shopping mall, but the center 'lawn area' between the Capitol/Washington Monument/Lincoln Memorial.

The sky was a nice cloudy day with a red reflection from the setting sun, which truly made the moment surreal as the lit white marble stood in contrast to the backdrop. Nice.

Yet somewhere in my soul I just…

Day 74, Experienced and Calmness.

Just the other day, as I was wiping up pee on the floor I had a realization about life. (Odd time I know, but it seems most fitting for my life).

Have you ever noticed that in the midst of cyclonic activities or intense situations that people respond in basically two ways? Either you get anxious and loss your bearings (i.e. making irrational decisions, bouncing between ideas, nothing congruent, poor communication) OR you see a sense of calm and steadfastness. Now, I am not going to say that fear is not present in either case, because I believe that fear still has its role. I am just observing that people respond clearly in those two ways.

I think I know what's the difference. I believe that a person who has gone through a situation knows at least from the previous experience the liberation from the event and a possible end result solution. For instance, I have been to the hospital numerous times to visit sick people, counsel a soldier who just lost a spouse, and even watched sever…

Day 73, Heading to DC with a saddened heart.

After a splendid weekend, a new Beagle named Heidi, a Worship Service at Trinity Reformed Church, an inquisitive small group, ...hamburgers...several eye catching gazes with my wife,...I am left just asking myself, what could bring my joy down?
At about 0755 this morning my browser opens to reveal the front page paper to Drudgereport, and my heart sank. I admit that I may not know every detail of the outcome of this bill that was passed, but I do know that ultimately that our countries leaders do not seem to value human life. With a vacuous state in my own family, Jessica and I desperately longing to fill with an adopted child, I just can't imagine anything more horrifying than abortion. Something, so senseless when I know of thousands of families who would be eager to bring any of these 'unwanted' home.

I grieve today.

I may be heading to DC this coming week for an Army class. How ironic...to be sent to Arlington...at such a time as this.

Day 72, Notice Anything Different.

Take a good look at these two photos...do you see anything different? Well, to the untrained eye...you may notice that the left has a dull cross...while the one on the right has a glimmering cross (possible stay-bright). Look closer.

Ok, you give up. The one on the bottom right, actually has a new ribbon. Its not an elaborate change, but none-the-less, its a little change. On March 26, 2010, I will have been in the Army for 12 years...and yes...that little Ribbon (Army Achievement Medal) is actually the first one I have ever received. I remember being a Private First Class in 1998, watching a fellow soldier get one,...and I got so green with jealously. I guess, God's got a sense of humor to teach patience.

Also,...just to for those who read my wife's blog and think she is TOO COOL, and I am just a 'tag-along' in her glory...well look real hard on her web site you WON'T see anything like these APPLES on her site. You might get a little 'flour' and 'sugar…

Day 70, Avatar, Did I 'see' it? (I did but it was called...)

"So, what did you think?" is the reverberating mantra as we all stand out our cushy popcorn laiden seats and grab our mysterious trash. I didn't want to answer because I had such mixed feelings. So, after 48 hours of work, a 3.3 mile run, and a several cups of coffee, ...I think I can write something that is not completely nonsensical. Here's my try.

It took awhile for me to get passed the Ferngully, Dances with Wolves, Never-Ending Story, Star Wars, Zelda and Smurf overtures. Ferngully/Zelda because it seemed I was watching a documentary on the rain forest and how the 'great tree' held everything together in green peace. Dances with Wolves, as the new 'Kevin' be-friends a tribe and eventually goes 'en-gine' (Indian) on the United States Calvary taming the ta-tonka (Buffalo). Never-Ending Story, because who in the world can hang on to any animal and fly. Star Wars because, if you remember in Star Wars I, the Naboo people with Jar-Jar...I truly …

Day 69, Blog Wars of 2010, Craven vs. Craven.

I have had a great number of entries to the blogger thus far and feel that I am getting a little more adventurous in my writing. I have just about set a precedence of daily, leisurely, and thoughtful blogs. A good bit of daily hits... Yet, as most of you know, Jessica has just entered the same arena. I showed her around and then just like Wesley stealing the show from Whitfield, Jessica has decided to strategically steal the lime light.

Here's what I have seen in her demise to destroy my empire: I noticed her pulling out blogger maps of recent bloggers. She is constantly trying to foil my writing by bringing me desserts just as I started writing. I also notice her constantly trying to 'be nice' to me when I settled down with a pen and paper to plot my course. The other day I knew something was odd, when she said 'Do you want to play your video games tonight?'...that's just not normal.  After helping her out with the backdrop and HMTL, I figured we had an allian…

Day 68, A Landmark Day.

About 365 days ago, I was sitting at FOB Falcon in Baghdad, Iraq working of filling out one of the first forms in our adoption. I remember walking to the Chow hall talking to some guys trying to explain that Jessica and I had finally made the first real decision and now it was going to be a long haul before we see some major results.

Not to get your hopes up, we did not get a child just yet,but we are definitely at a point in the adoption that needs some celebration. At 0800 this morning, our profile is officially posted at our Adoption Agency Web site, which is where mothers can view our family profile.

This sets into motion a major thing for us. For right now, this very hour, we could be receiving a phone call that would revolutionize our family. Within a short period of time today to about 4 months (estimate) we should be matched and possibly flying back to the states to hold the new Craven. How cool is that?

Celebrate with us.

Also join us in beginning to pray for Jessica and I as…

Day 67, Conversations that Change Us: Predestination

Sunday night a good friend of mine who is a West Point Graduate, and Battery Commander (Pretty Sharp dude) said, "Hey, I have got a question for you...What do you think about predestination?" Now, in many circles this would be resolved with two likely responses.
1. "Well, I think we should just leave those doctrines that divide the churches alone and focus on what really matters."
2. "Well, I have never really nailed down what I believe and thus will continue talking to eventually change the subject."

I chose neither.

I could tell that he had really been thinking about this. This was not one of those 'stump the chump' questions. I smiled and decided I would let him fill out the question and talk his way through it. As he did so, I would smile and put a guard rail or would give him what various views were. His eyes widened as he just began to have a huge dialogue with himself. I could tell his conversation was shaking and solidifying some ideas. I …

Day 66, 11:41 PM Saturday Night, Starting a New Sabbath Habit.

I have been thinking the ole Sabbath theory through for quite sometime. Do I think that it was a law that was fulfilled in Christ? (St. Augustine's View) Do I feel that I can do 'Holy Work' on the Sabbath? Is Saturday or Sunday the Sabbath? What constitutes 'rest' from work? Can I go outside and pick up sticks without sinning? You may not think about these things, but I challenge you to look at your view of 'keeping the Sabbath'?

What does the Christian do in the 21st Century? Do you go out to eat after church? Do you drop by Wal-mart? Do you turn on the stove and cook? If you are a minister, do you think Monday constitutes a resting day? What if Monday turns into just sit around and do things that I didn't get accomplished on Saturday?

I feel that we are to do something on the Sabbath. We are to rest and recognize that the work of Jesus Christ was sufficient on the Cross and that there is no 'extra' work to be done. Therefore, we should make ev…

Day 65, I Know Why My Dad Smoked a Pipe.

About 8 years ago, I picked up my dad's old pipe and packed it full of some Half and Half pipe tobacco, got a an ole Bic lighter and fired up my first bowl. I was sitting on top of my porch roof in Seminary. It was a cold night, but I didn't care. I had had just about enough stress for the week, and just thought a little nostalgia would ease the moment.

Oddly enough. It did.

Since then, I am the most infrequent smoker known to man. I literally by pipe tobacco and forget where I put when I get home. So, if you think I am an addict or I have a smoking problem, I would gladly dismiss your accusations.

But, I will admit this. I know exactly why my dad would pack a bowl, retreat to the back porch, pet a partially retarded golden retriever, and pensively look off to a lightly traveled dirt road. I never saw him smoke out of nervousness, even though I am sure he did, ...the pipe seemed to be a 7-12 minute pause in life...a time of reflection, gathering of thoughts,...making decisi…

Day 64, The Animal was Stopped Today.

I am sure as the Titanic sank into the Atlantic, someone was regretting the word, "unsinkable." Well today, my ego sank quickly as the Ford Explorer sat crippled for the first time in over a 1 foot 1/2 of snow. A tear trickled down my face, as I realized my baby was officially stuck.

The Background: For about 3 months it has been snowing in the Land of Germany. About every weekend we get our 4 to 6 inches without fail. The temperatures edge above 30 on a hot day, but most of the time hover around 23 all day long. So, the snow has piled up in just about every place imaginable. Up till this morning, I saw all these mounds of snow as potential conquest for my Explorer. With a magical push of a button, she would transform into a vicious beast that could tear through anything. I would almost stand outside my little apartment and taunt the gods if they couldn't dish out more snow for PT tomorrow. NOTHING COULD STOP THE 4x4!

I even admit that I would have dreams of my adventur…

Day 63, Young Minister's Goals.

A Classic Craven Moment, at FOB Falcon. My impression of Billy Sunday ranting.

I think it is safe to say that I am no longer a novice to ministry. I am no expert as of yet, but I feel that I can at least encourage 'younger' minister's with this list of things to be mindful.

TOP 10 GOALS OF YOUNG MINISTERS ( in no particular order)
1. Get to know the Janitor of the church and love him to death. He will be your bread and butter.

2. People are typically not easy to read when you first get to a church/Duty Station. Don't show your cards completely.

3. Love your wife, more than your congregation. This is a safe-guard for later, and also helps establish a 'help-mate' in ministry. She will relax, if she knows your heart.

4. Give all money and financial responsibilities to a trusted elder/adult. Never pass money to anyone, simply defer, "I don't take care of that, Mrs. Smith is our financial secretary."

5. If you work with a staff, which you probably wil…

Day 62, Overly Valuing Gray, Part I

"Its not a gift, it is merely technique." Ask any artist of charcoal or pencil, and you will hear this statement in regards to what many people call, "shading." Basically, its the ability to gradually move from a black to white without obvious steps of gradation. A snooty word for it is "Chiaroscuro". That's about the only thing I remember from my Art Education degree.

But truly, with enough time and patience a student can easily learn the right cross-hatching patterns to create such a smooth well-blended surface to compete with any renown Master. I believe this so much that in my private lessons, I will spend hours teaching anyone the proper rendering of sphere on a table. Ultimately, if you can shade a sphere correctly, you can make any object appear realistic in regards to light.

In American popular culture, the ability of blending black and white to an indistinguishable gray has almost become a masterful value that is been heightened to virtuosity. …

Day 61, Back in the Saddle with Purpose.

Last night, Jessica launched her new blogger page and I am uber interested to see how far she will push herself to share her thoughts with so many. With this new challenge to our family, I feel the accountability for me will be heightened. I suppose a little 'friendly-competition' could be fostered.

So, for all of you who are reading my thoughts and see how accurately they portray our family, feel free to cross-over to the 'SHE SAID' hemisphere of the blogging world. The link is provided in my favorites blogs on the right column.

****THE REFORMED CHAPLAIN****

Yesterday afternoon, I sent off my Nehemiah Commentary to Lifeway to be looked at and prayerfully published in some upcoming Student Material that is debuting in the Summer. Although the labor of writing the material had its definite ups and downs it did stir in me a desire to do more writing, but this time in a particular field without the 'guidelines' that are attached to lesson writing.

Therefore, I am goi…

Day 60, Harmonizing and Being Authentic

Today, I stood in front of a Chapel of people to give the announcements and other small Chaplain like duties. Instead of prayerfully considering what was going on around me, I began to day dream about this thought. What if these people are reading my blog or my journal or they see me at my house or they have coffee with me at the CMR or see me at a Command Staff Meeting or play XBOX with me online?

The question came: AM I THE SAME PERSON IN ALL THESE VARIOUS VENUES?

Does the John Craven that blogs about pooping/Jenny McCarthy/Adoption and other very obscure topics, harmonize with the John Craven that loves expositional preaching, John Owen, smoking a Pipe? Is this John Craven who loves to pet Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs, be the same one that counsels marriages?

I recognize we all have very different places we live and work. I am not talking about those differences. I am talking about a almost schizophrenia lifestyle that is created by the almost endless mediums one communicates in througho…

Day 59, The Decay of Manners, Can be an Unexpected Blessing

**Caution: This may be disturbing for people of high standards of manners***
In the military, we have something called, "Hail and Farewells". It is a semi-formal affair where the upper level leaders of a unit come together to 'Hail' all the new guys to the unit, and 'Farewell' all the guys who will be departing. A meal, short speeches, a couple of jokes and you leave. A 'SEMI-FORMAL' event,...so you must be on your 'A-Game' in the Manners department.

Now for some reason this past week, at one of ours, I had eaten something during the day...that had not completely settled in my stomach. The entire night was a constant uncomfortable bloating sensation that thought would never cease. I was looking forward to great expectations to leave the speeches, and get in the car and get home. As the night wrapped up, we got in the car,...along with some people who had hopped in for the ride for a brief 12 minute ride home.

YET, thinking I could remain vigil …

Day 58, Recovering and Sour Milk.

After several days of being away from the Ole Blogger, I am getting back in the saddle again. Jessica's surgery is over and she is healing wonderfully. Although, I have seen that she has learned that if she 'looks' like she is in pain, I will just about stop anything I am doing to tend to her beckoning call. Yet, after the third or fourth trip to the kitchen for a spoon, bedroom for a book, office for the lappy,...I have noticed that these ailments generally disappear in the presences of a certain niece of ours calling on Skype. At the sound of Skype ringing, my wife miraculously can leap to her feet, dart through the halls effortlessly,...point click, situate, and watch on web cam our niece, Hannah. I typically, stand utterly amazed, as once she is seated enjoying the show, I scratch my head and wonder from whence did this vivacious woman arise? Nothing short of a miracle, I suppose.

Furthermore I have just about finished my commentary on the book of Nehemiah for Lifeway, …

Day 57, Crazy Feelings of Anxiety

Laboring away at the ole commentary on Nehemiah, I have been humbled many times as I am struggling over and over again with my personal understanding or definition of what true leadership is.

Despite my current efforts to write scholarly after 2100 (9:00 P.M.), I decided to fall back on faithful blogging.

Therefore, I will just tell you the truth right now. Jessica is going into the hospital tomorrow here in Germany, and I am a little anxious about it. I am not scared for myself or the procedure, I am just concerned for my wife. I have not had kids yet, but I am sure that first day of school for your 'first born' is quite rattling. And in a very bizarre way, I want to somehow save Jessica all the pain and uncomfortableness of this entire episode. For some odd reason, I would rather MUCH rather me deal with this than her. That's what is bothering me.

On the other side of my heart, is a strong desire this week to look very intently again at my calling. In about 6 days, Jessic…

Day 56, Wrestling with Nehemiah

During the late 90's, I was just finishing up college when the popular trend of Evangelical Christianity shifted to emphasizing 'Leadership' as its primary. If you remember this era, you might recall the numerous books that John Maxwell published in this frenzy. Almost all the writings were centralized around the book of Nehemiah and Ezra. Youth Camps, Discipleship materials, any extra conferences were somehow centralized on Nehemiah. To be frank, I grew very upset with the almost tunnel vision approach of the church on this character. From the 90's through the first decade of the 21st Century, this Nehemiah character is unveiled again, not with the leadership focus, but on his ability to convey vision and build. AND THUS, many churches across the SBC, used this theme to create slogans and mottos surrounding 'church building campaigns'.

Frustrated in my heart, I grew to almost despise the story. I rarely would even read Ezra and Nehemiah in my readings. Not feel…

Day 55, The Adoption Support Begins.

Dear Family and Friends,
Jessica and I have finally crossed the point in the adoption process where we feel as a couple that it is appropriate to begin to call our Christian brothers and sisters to support our adoption.

Since our first date climbing Stone Mountain, July 16, 2004, Jessica and I have been planning our family through adoption. First, in the seed of conversation. Second, in the labor of plowing paperwork. And now, almost 5 years later, this has become a reality.

The Lord has been more than gracious to us to prepare for this adoption financially. Virtually all of our deployment money has gone into preparing for this. Yet, through prayer we feel that it is time to give the Church, the followers of Christ, an opportunity to not only support 'The Craven's', but ADOPTION itself.

A young lady in Barbourville Kentucky said it best to us, "If you are PRO-LIFE, then you must be PRO-ADOPTION." This one statement and many others have set our hearts on fire f…

Day 54, Jenny McCarthy Kick My Butt Tonight.

As many of you may know, we Army soldiers are fit and rugged and can't be stomped into the ground by anyone who doesn't have a Ranger Tab. I mean, seriously, I wake up,...go do PT at 6:30 for 1 hour, then typically after work run 4 miles just to stay fit for the fight that keeps us safe. ((Doesn't hurt to look good for the gal at home either)).

Yet, this evening, instead of going for my run, I dawned my PT's and turned on our Wii to try a new exercise system we got called, "Your Shape". Its simple. A video camera captures you on one window, Jenny McCarthy Avatar barks orders at you on the left window. While the exercises is happening, a constant feed on how you are doing is being sent in through the feed on the camera. I thought it sound preposterous and decided to show this system what a 34 year old, United States Army Captain can do.

Choosing Advanced, Cardio, 30 minutes. I put the controller down and started the program. NOW...before I continue. God speaks t…

Day 53, Preparing for Overseas Flights.

Amongst (love that catchy word) the clatter regarding the "Christmas Day Terrorist", Jessica and I still had a flight to catch on December 31st. Being told multiple times by the media and relatives that early arrival would be best, we proceeded to arrive about 4 hours prior our boarding. (Not a bad idea).

We went right through with no terrible problems. The typical, Chaplain Screening, is always my favorite. You know they aren't profiling, when a white 30-something, male gets nabbed just about every trip. A clear, MAM.(for all you military guru's).

Anywho, here's where the blog begins. Jessica and I grab some window seats on the way back to Germany, thanks to Expedia. Then we get out the headsets and dawn the ear-plugs...yes, we double up...SUPER QUIET. This is where we thought we could definitely keep our senses privatized. BUT, wait...yes there are 5 senses.

The seats directly in front of Jessica and I had a lovely German couple, 30-somethings, with two toddlers…